Payton Sparkles -- Sonics Top Bulls By 22
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The atmosphere in sold-out Pacific Coliseum seemed more like a rock concert at times, as the youthful crowd heaped its affection on Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan.
Jordan Night, however, also turned out to be another chapter in the coming-out party of Seattle SuperSonic rookie Gary Payton. The Sonics won the NBA exhibition 109-87, and their point guard played his best game as a professional, scoring 20 points. While Payton committed six turnovers, he made up for those mistakes with six assists.
The Sonics evened their exhibition record at 3-3, and two of those victories have come at the expense of the Bulls (5-2), who scored a 102-90 win over Seattle in the Kingdome Tuesday.
But the Bulls saw a different Payton last night. The No. 2 pick in the draft said he changed his playing style and attitude for the game.
``I attacked more on defense,'' he said. ``In the game in the Kingdome, I was waiting for them to come to me. I didn't wait this time. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with my teammates, but it's a slow process that's going to take time.''
Chicago Coach Phil Jackson, who was ejected in the third period, saw the difference.
``I thought he played much better tonight,'' Jackson said. ``He's benefited from the experience gained in earlier games and played with a lot more poise.''
Seattle Coach K.C. Jones said, ``Gary played good defense tonight and did a good job directing the offense. Now we've got to get the rest of the team to run along with him.''
Those who came to see Jordan weren't disappointed. The four-time NBA scoring champion scored 14 points in the final period and finished the night with a team-high 18.
After Jackson was ejected, the Sonics outscored the Bulls 16-9 over the rest of the period to lead 71-58 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Sonics, playing without injured starters Dale Ellis (ankle) and Nate McMillan (knee), were never seriously challenged and led by as many as 24 points.
The game was a strange one.
-- Pacific Coliseum officials, who are more accustomed to staging hockey games, were unprepared for the enthusiastic crowd. A section of railing collapsed as Jordan's fans pressed forward while he walked from the court to the Bulls' locker room following the game. One youth was trapped under the debris for several moments, but there were no injuries. Another group swept out of the stands and onto the court when the final buzzer sounded.
-- One of the baskets in the Coliseum was slightly higher than 10 feet. The Sonics made just 28 percent of their field goal tries on the hoop in the first half, and the Bulls converted 34 percent of their shots when the teams switched ends. They made 44 percent of their shots en route to a 43-39 halftime lead.
-- In the forgettable second period, the Sonics and Bulls combined for 33 points.
-- Jackson's ejection continues a disagreement with referee Steve Javie.
``He and I have a long history,'' Jackson said. ``He came in our huddle during a time out and said something to me. I added an insult to it and he threw me out. I deserved it.''
Jones said his team was lucky to survive its poor play in the second period.
``The way we played, we should have been down by 20 points,'' Jones said. ``I was surprised when I looked up at the scoreboard at halftime and we were down by only four. Both teams were ragged.''
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